The Covid 19 pandemic and the associated protective measures have caused far-reaching changes in engineering education. On-site classes at the campus had to be switched to online classes for long stretches during the pandemic. However, conducting laboratory exercises, a fundamental component of engineering education, posed a particular challenge. The Institute of Mechanical and Power Engineering (IME) at the Lucerne School of Engineering and Architecture (HSLU T&A) is taking the challenging approach of fully compensating for the experiments from the laboratory lessons with digital twins "online".
The laboratory lessons consist of experiments from the subject areas of fluid mechanics, thermodynamics and turbomachinery and are important components of the curriculum of courses at the Institutes of Mechanical and Energy Engineering (IME) and Energy and Environment Engineering (EESE) at the Lucerne School of T&A. During the Covid 19 pandemic, it was necessary to adapt to the new environment of online teaching and to modify the laboratory experiments accordingly so that they could be conducted online. The approach taken is to develop digital twins of each lab experiment in the form of a web application and offer them to students along with supporting videos, online quizzes and other interactive elements as online lab lessons. A digital twin is a digital representation of a physical system, in this case a laboratory test rig. During the last two years, almost all lab exercises at HSLU T&A at IME have been successfully conducted online with the use of digital twins.
Teaching online during the Covid 19 pandemic presented many hurdles, one of the more difficult being how to teach hands-on lab courses outside of an actual lab. The experience at HSLU T&A shows that successful delivery of an online lab class with digital twins is possible. Thus, it has been demonstrated that students are able to achieve the learning objectives defined in the lab exercise using the digital twin. The students' feedback on the varied and interactive online laboratory teaching was positive.
The experience gained in online laboratory teaching and the development of the digital twins were summarised in a paper published at the Gas and Turbo Machinery Conference "ASME Turbo Expo 2021". The paper is entitled "Online (Remote) Teaching for Laboratory Based Courses Using Digital Twins of the Experiments" and was written by the authors Sabri Deniz, Ulf Christian Müller, Ivo Steiner and Thomas Sergi and won the "Best Paper" award in the field of "Education". ASME Turbo Expo has long been recognised as the world's leading conference on all aspects of turbomachinery and gas turbine technologies. The paper will also be published in the Journal of Engineering for Gas Turbines and Power, Volume 44, Issue 5, May 2022.
If you are interested, please contact Ulf Christian Müller and Sabri Deniz for the detailed PDF.